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How to spend three days in Delhi—where to eat, sleep and play in India's bustling city

Unless you’re headed to the relaxed Keralan coast, practicing yoga in India, or planning to party in Goa, India can be an overwhelming travel destination. Delhi is more intense than the usual tourist hotspots but offers a truly authentic taste of the country, it’s where daily life unfolds on each and every street.

indian man wearing pink turban sitting on a step in delhi, India
 Daily Delhi life 
And whatever you’re interested in, there’s an abundance of varied restaurants, incredible temples, beautiful sights, high-end hotels, incredible street food, and wonderful under-the-radar buildings that rival the Taj Mahal.

Where to stay in Delhi

I spent just over a week in the capital but everything listed in this article can be done in three full days. I based myself at The Roseate, a dreamy hotel set in lush gardens that provides a calming oasis after a day of city sightseeing. It’s ideal if you want a few days to relax and unwind before heading into the city center's bustle, or if you want to retreat each evening to calmer environs.

double bed and bath inside hotel room at the roseate hotel in delhi in India, it's the perfect place to spend three days in delhi
My room at the Roseate
Choose a room overlooking the swimming pool, where you’ll be treated to your own private patio area that’s perfect for cocktails after an evening dip. Rooms start from $208 (£167 per night).

What to see in Delhi

Humayun's Tomb

During the day be sure to visit Humayun's Tomb in Nizamuddin East. Built in 1570, this is truly one of the most beautiful temples in India. As the first garden tomb on the Indian subcontinent, it inspired many other major architectural innovations and is now a world heritage site. Visit on a weekday afternoon when you should find the grounds blissfully quiet, a contrast to the streets beyond.

three boys walking in front of humayuns tomb in delhi, india. The tomb is one of the best places to visit during three days in delhi
Humayun's Tomb

Gandhi Smriti

A visit to Delhi isn't complete without a trip to Gandhi Smriti, the house where Gandhi spent the last 144 days of his life before he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. The memorial makes an interesting half-day trip where you can view many of Gandhi's belongings, the room where he lived, and sadly, even the spot where he was shot. It's a peaceful, contemplative place and there's a good bookshop on site.

An indian women wearing a pink and gold sari in delhi india
Delhi life

The National Gallery of Modern Art

Through the recommendation of a friend I also discovered the work of the artist Amrita Sher-Gil during my time in Delhi. Occasionally described as India's Frida Kahlo, Sher-Gil's short life was as truly fascinating as Kahlo's. The National Gallery of Modern Art houses the majority of her paintings as well as rotating exhibitions from other artists. As well as providing free daily tours the gallery hosts film sessions too.

Monsoon Salon

Delhi is an intense city, so after a hard day of city bustle check out Monsoon Salon (there are eight branches throughout Delhi and Gurgaon). I tried treatments at the Dwarka store including a massage and manicure, plus I had the best pedicure of my life with a therapist called Boby.

Piano Man Jazz Club

If you’re in the mood for music, check out the gorgeously old-school Piano Man Jazz Club in Safdarjung Enclave market. It's a tightly packed, intimate place with tons of live gigs and jazz movie screenings, plus their chandelier is made of trumpets.

a street shrine in delhi, india. Shrines can be seen all over the city and are well worth seeking out during three days in delhi
Street shrine in Delhi

Where to eat in Delhi

Carnatic Cafe

A huge highlight of Delhi for me was the food. I loved discovering different dishes and places to escape the crowded streets for a quick bite. Friends told me about Carnatic Cafe in the New Friends Colony market. It's the perfect place for a spot of lunch since they serve the best South Indian food—including the most authentic filter coffee and coconut chutney. Make sure you try the Malleshwaram 18th Cross, a dosa named after a famous street in Bangalore.

Old Delhi Street Food Tour

One of the best things I did in Delhi was the Old Delhi Street Food Tour with Anubhav, (founder of Delhi Food Walks). The authentic butter chicken, aloo chaat, and delicious kebabs from Karims left me craving them for months after. I also got to learn so much about the fascinating labyrinth-like lanes of Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazaar—an experience in itself.

man holding kebab over fire at karims in old delhi, the delhi street food tour is one of the best things to do during three days in delhi
Karim's kebabs

Town Hall

For more modern surroundings, head over to the rooftop restaurant Town Hall in Khan Market, where I enjoyed superb sushi, dim sum, and cocktails in hip surroundings. 

EK Bar

I was also introduced to EK Bar, in Defence Colony, which turned out to be a fun place to while away a hot evening with inventive icy cocktails. Decorated impeccably with bright elephant murals, EK has a fabulously fun menu, make sure you check out the signature drink, The Royal Indian Punch, which arrives in a dainty floral teacup. The delicious mix includes whisky, fermented kahwa tea, pink grapefruit, and spices—pure perfection.

1 comment

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